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Ottoman perceptions of philhellenism



Ottoman perceptions of philhellenism


6 February 2021


"The outburst of the Greek Revolution constituted a major challenge for the Ottomans, since they had to suppress a 'millet-wide sedition' of their subjects, who were claiming independence. The sultan, the central state elite and the intelligentsia tried to identify the reasons that triggered the 'insurrection' of their subjects. The Ottoman administration responded to this challenge with the mobilisation of its military power alongside several attempts to reincorporate the subjects back to the imperial order. At the same time, the Greek Revolution became the main channel of transmission, through which the main ideas of the French Revolution and the enlightenment entered the Ottoman mind and shaped decisively the imperial political thought and ideology. Through documents intercepted from the Greek rebels, the Ottoman authorities tried to find the responses to the new challenges. One of the major concerns of the Ottoman state elite was the repercussions of the Greek Revolution on the European press and the expansion of the philhellenic movement. The enlargement of the philhellenic movement and the humanitarian interventions of the European Powers in favour of the Greeks caused the disapproval of the Ottoman statesmen, who demanded that ambassadors refrain from such initiations. This paper seeks to investigate the Ottoman perceptions of the philhellenic movement. It examines the Ottoman networks of information about the European volunteers who contributed to the Greek cause, the perceptions of the Porte about the motives of these persons and the consequences of the philhellenic movement in Ottoman political thought in regard to the role of history and civilisation in modern politics."

(Slightly modified abstract from the Initiative 1821-2021 website)

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